Tales from kitchen and cellar

Archive for July, 2012|Monthly archive page

Strawberry Meringue, Crowning Glory

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on July 24, 2012 at 7:57 am

Strawberry Meringue

Is there any finer pudding in these summer months than the crisp, chewy, light texture of home made meringue, whipped cream with fresh vanilla and the star of the show… the voluptuous strawberry.

This dish has great impact, the rustic wow factor and is every bit as tasty and gorgeous as it looks. I urge you all to go find the finest strawberries you can,  a good double cream and free range eggs.

Ingredients (serves 6 with leftovers)

4 fresh egg whites (large)

225g caster sugar

1 vanilla pod split and seeded

500 ml double cream

3 tbsp icing sugar

2 punnets of strawberries



Preheat oven to 140 C, line 2 baking sheets with greaseproof paper and draw circles in pencil using a plate as a guideline.

Using a very clean bowl and electric beaters, whisk the egg whites until medium to stiff peaks are formed. Beat for a little longer then add 1 tablespoon of sugar then whisk again, repeat before adding the remaining sugar. Beat until thick and glossy.

Spoon onto your baking sheets and place on the bottom two shelves and bake for one hour, then turn the oven off completely and leave the meringue to cool overnight.

When you are ready to serve your meringue, wash, hull and chop your strawberries into quarters. Keep a few whole for decoration I usually set 7 aside. You can add a little sugar and cointreau to the strawberries if you like for added sweetness and kick.

Whip the cream with the vanilla seeds and icing sugar until thick enough to hold its own weight but still be spread.

Carefully remove the meringue from the greaseproof paper and using a large plate to serve keep your best meringue for the top.

Spread the cream on the bottom of the meringue, top with the strawberries together with any juice that has leached out, use a little of the cream to sandwich the top on carefully and decorate with the strawberries set aside using a little more of the cream.

It is very fragile at this stage but if it cracks don’t worry too much, serve and enjoy!

If there is any left you can pop it in the fridge and serve as an eton mess the next day, delicious.





Tarty Tarte Tatin

In Baking, food, Food and Drink on July 19, 2012 at 11:59 am










Tasty Tarte Tatin

This decadent tarte tatin really is as good to eat as it looks. Leave to cool slightly before tucking in so that the caramel starts to get a little tacky and sticks to your teeth before being washed away by the softness of the apple. Yum!


240g caster sugar

90 g unsalted butter diced

1 x 500g pack of puff pastry

2 pink lady apples

a little flour for rolling out

1 cinnamon stick (optional)

vanilla ice cream to serve


Pre heat the oven to 200C/ 180 fan or gas mark 6

Take a heavy based  small frying pan and heat the sugar with a little water until the sugar dissolves and starts to caramelise, don’t stir as the mixture may crystalise.

Once the sugar has reached a dark caramel colour remove from the heat and add the sugar carefully so as not to splash yourself with molten liquid!

Roll out the pastry to the size of the frying pan around the thickness of a pound coin.

Peel and core the apple and cut each into four wedeges, arrange on top of the caramel place the cinnamon stick across the tart diagonally if using. Then tuck in the pastry just like a blanket and bake in the oven for around 40 minutes.

Leave to cool before turning out, and serve with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Sensational Strawberries

In Cooking, food, Food and Drink on July 17, 2012 at 1:14 pm








Pick Your Own, while you can…

It’s that time of year when the call of the pick your own beckons, not everyone is lucky enough to have one to hand but I recently stumbled across Grays Farm nearby and had a great, nostalgic time.

Check out my latest blog for Get Wokingham


Maybe it will inspire you to hunt out your local PYO.

Super Summer Salad

In Cooking, food, Food and Drink on July 12, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Iberico ham, orange, chicory, mozarella and pine nut salad

I saw the sun today, it’s brief appearance (around 15 minutes) reminded me of all the salads I hoped to have created this year, inspired by the abundance of summer produce. As the bright sunshine disappeared behind a gloomy thick cloud never to return today I was not put off and decided to pay homage to its fleeting appearance with this rainbow coloured salad with its glimmers of orange to denote the sun.

So here it is my super summer salad…

Ingredients serves 2

Fresh salad leaves of your choice (e.g baby gem)


Pea shoots

Iberico ham

Good quality mini mozarella balls ( I used a Garofalo)

3 tbsp pine nuts

1 juicy jaffa orange

extra virgin olive oil

balsamic vinegar


Wash the salad leaves and dry thoroughly. Slice and segment your orange into little bite size slithers. In a dry pan toast the pinenuts until golden.

Arrange the salad leaves on to a plate, tear the mozarella balls into pieces and place amongst the salad leaves, add the ham and finally the orange slithers.

Scatter the pinenuts on top and drizzle with balsamic vinegar and a good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Eat immediately!

Taste the tropics…in a muffin!

In Baking, Cakes, Cooking, food, Food and Drink on July 10, 2012 at 10:58 am

Marvelous Muffins

Mango and coconut muffins

In this miserable summer weather a bit of baking always lifts my spirits and as I thought of hotter climes the idea of a totally tropical mango and coconut muffin recipe came to mind. We might not have the caribbean sunshine but we can certainly taste the tropics!

This recipe is a great basic guideline swap around the mango for any fruit you like, peach also works well. Buttermilk for me makes a muffin great and I am supremely confident that this is one of the best muffin recipes around.


Makes around 20-24 muffins

4 cups of plain flour

8 tsp BP

1 cup caster sugar

200 g melted butter

400 ml buttermilk

2 eggs

2 cups of  chopped fruit (I used mango)

1/2 cup dessicated coconut

2 muffin trays and cases


Pre-heat oven to 160 C, Gas Mark 4

Line 2 muffin trays with muffin cases.

Sift the flour together with the baking powder sugar and pinch of salt in a large mixing bowl. In  a seperate bowl mix the eggs, buttermilk and melted butter. Fold them all together. Spoon the mixture into the muffin cases and bake for Approx 20-25 min until risen and golden brown. Test with a skewer that comes out clean from the mixture.

Leave to cool a little on a wire rack, but try whilst still warm for the best taste. Enjoy!

I also have a new little friend keeping me company in the kitchen, I would like to introduce Maisie…


Aaah for Artichokes

In Cooking, drink, food, Food and Drink on July 4, 2012 at 10:58 am


Artichokes with melted butter and lemon

Summer veg is here to stay, well at least for a little while!  So I dived in with one of my favourites the globe artichoke. Don’t be put off by its rather unapproachable facade, pop this beauty in a large pan of boiling water and in under half an hour you have yourself a great starter or light supper. Served with a little melted butter, lemon juice and a glass of something cold preferably white, a Gavi di Gavi perhaps and I guarantee you’ll smile!

Serves 2

2 globe artichokes

75 g butter melted mixed with juice of 1 lemon

Sea salt

Fresh cracked pepper


Find a pan large enough to fit the 2 artichokes in, fill with water and bring to the boil. Place the artichokes in the pan, making sure that the water covers them. Boil for 20-30 minutes depending on size. When you pull one of the leaves they should come away easily.

Once cooked, drain and leave to cool for a couple of minutes. Melt the butter and add the juice of the lemon to taste together with the pepper and salt.

Serve with the artichoke, wine too and enjoy!